While disappointed, Jason Blanch understands party leader Elizabeth May’s decision to step down as leader of the Green Party of Canada.
Blanch, who ran for the party in the recent federal election, admitted to having mixed feelings with her decision.
“I have worked with Elizabeth for a long time and have a lot of respect for her and I believe she has provided the party with great leadership,” said Blanch, who ran in Cumberland-Colchester and picked up more than 6,500 votes. “Since she came on as leader the party’s support has really grown. She has provided extraordinary leadership.”
May announced Monday she is stepping down immediately as the party’s leader but will remain as an MP. She said a leadership convention will be held next October and that deputy leader Jo-Ann Roberts is the party’s interim leader.
Blanch understands May’s reasoning to step aside, fulfilling a promise to her daughter the 2019 election would be her last as leader.
He said change and renewal is not a bad thing.
“I’m sure her consideration must have included how long it will be before an election and I wonder if that’s why she made her decision so early,” Blanch said. “I respect her for making this bold decision and taking action before the party decides whether it has to be done or not.”
Following the election, there was some speculation whether May would remain as leader with some expressing disappointment the party didn’t make significant gains when polls suggested at the beginning of the campaign that it had more support than the NDP.
Like May, Blanch said, the party is continuing to grow.
May was a strong supporter of Blanch, coming to Amherst to support his candidacy in the 2009 by-election to replace Bill Casey, who left politics after being re-elected an independent a year before.
She also made campaign stops by train in Truro and Amherst during the most recent campaign to support Blanch’s candidacy.
Blanch said he has turned to her to advice in the past and hopes he will be able to in future. He has already said he will run for the party again in the next election.
He doesn’t feel her resignation is bad for the party.
“I feel confident in the direction the party will go,” he said. “I have a lot of faith in the party itself. I feel confident the person who replaces Elizabeth will be a good choice. But when you’ve had someone for as long as she’s been there, it’s not going to be an easy job.”
He said a new face and new energy should help the party continue the work May started.